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World Wildlife Day: Europe echoes call

UNEP in Europe marked World Wildlife Day by sending an alarm call to the world for better protection of the Caspian seal, while in Geneva and Brussels the general public were invited to watch an insightful documentary on the complex threats faced by African elephants.


The marine species - the only mammal living in the Caspian Sea and the smallest seal on Earth – is in danger of extinction: its population has declined by 90% over the last 100 years and only around 100,000 now exist.


Recent satellite images furthermore show that this winter has been one of the worst on record for Caspian Sea ice - meaning it is very likely that a high proportion of pups born this season will have perished.


The Caspian seal is more than a symbol for the region, it is one of the best indicators of healthy – or unhealthy – ecosystems of the entire Caspian.


“We all have a role to play in conserving wildlife so vital to our environment,” said Jan Dusik, Director of the UN Environment Programme’s Regional Office for Europe. “While their numbers face stark threats, each female Caspian seal only gives birth to one pup a year, making protection of this charismatic species especially urgent,” he underlined.


Under the Caspian Environment Program supported by UNEP, the Caspian countries developed a Conservation Action Plan for the seal. The plan acknowledges hunting, by-catch and poaching as the crucial threats to the Caspian seal population and foresees the setup of special protected areas for seals.


The countries in 2014 signed a legal treaty on biodiversity protection - the Ashgabat Protocol. This provides the legal basis to further this work and was negotiated under the Tehran Convention, which UNEP provides an interim Secretariat for.



Caspian Seal data are from Leeds University (authoritative source of reference when it comes to the Caspian seal populations): ‘Inter-year variation in pup production of Caspian seals Pusa caspica 2005–2012 determined from aerial surveys,’ October 2015.


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